Wooden waste floating on a disused canal in 1973.
Today the canals are used for leisure and frequently a solution to those looking for, sometimes cheaper, housing in London. They are no longer used as they were, to transport goods around the country. .
In 1968, under Barbara Castle’s Transport Act, the leisure value of canals was officially recognised, and public money was spent on making them suitable for recreation. The year after this picture was taken Camden Council, followed Westminster's lead and opened the towpaths within its boundaries to the public. .
Learn more about public and private space in our City Now City Future season. .